It has been just over a year since last I wrote on this blog.
I stand by what I wrote in that last post, which was that I was deeply sorry for years of dishonest, disappointing and embarrassing behavior.
A year later, however, I want to clarify something about my regret. As probably more than a few suspected, I was deceitful not only prior to my breakdown, but during it as well. In conversations with curious journalists, and in my own periodic twitter “meltdowns,” I consistently exaggerated my own sins. Much of what I confessed to was true, of course — but quite a bit wasn’t. No one wants or needs a line-by-line examination of the truth of what I said or wrote in the summer of 2013, and fear not, such an unwelcome revisiting is not in the offing. (It scarcely need be said that I completely lack the requisite credibility to do such a revisiting.)
What is worth mentioning is this: in those interviews and social media tantrums, I lied to make myself look even worse than I was. My intention was to drive absolutely everyone away. In a tailspin of self-absorbed self-destruction, I wanted attention from all — and compassion from none. I tried with no small degree of success to represent myself in the worst possible light. If a narcissist in free-fall can’t have adoration, hatred seems vastly preferable to indifference. The hardest thing for me to stomach was my own banality.
The ultimate goal was to get myself to a point of despair and isolation so profound that I could finally succeed at doing what I had halfheartedly attempted so many times. I am very grateful that I failed.
During that breakdown summer of 2013, I regularly self-mutilated with cigarettes as a coping mechanism, something I’d done on and off since my teens. But I didn’t just self-injure by burning myself; I self-injured through a drug-facilitated concatenation of incontinent ramblings to reporters, to Facebook, and to Twitter. In the process, I harmed many others, particularly those who had given me their love, their time, and their trust. The amends process for that continues, and I have no idea when or if it will ever be finished.
I am not “coming back.” I abused the rhetoric of redemption and second chances for too long to get away with publicly constructing still another narrative of restoration and return. Even a single post like this runs the risk of reviving a drama that is best consigned to the past. It’s a risk I’ve not been willing to take in over a year.
I’m taking the risk now because I think those who were impacted — for better or worse — by my teaching and my writing deserve to know this much: I am not planning a grand return. I am not trying to win back anyone’s trust. I am not ingratiating myself with a new community in the expectation that I can soon talk my way into leadership. Rather, I stack chairs and sweep floors and serve as a tax accountant’s assistant. I am private, quiet, celibate, and sober. I do not self-injure or encourage others to do so. I see my children every day, and am committed to being a constant, reliable, loving presence in their lives. One day at a time, I intend to stick around to see them grow up.
One more thing: it is a great relief to no longer have to worry about coming up with something that sounds clever, comforting, wise or inspiring in the face of quotidian tragedies and controversies. I have a mantra that I repeat to myself whenever I’m tempted to weigh in publicly on a news story: “no one — really, no one — needs to know my take on this.”
There may come a day that when asked, I will share my view. But today is not that day, and tomorrow doesn’t look good either.